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Friday, June 21, 2024

Government eyes 4-day workweek scheme

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Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is open to the idea of implementing a four-day workweek, as people find it hard to manage their expenses amid the spiraling price of oil in the global market, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I believe… working 10 hours a day for four days a week is a good idea,” he said in a message to reporters.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People aired on Wednesday morning, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority director general Karl Kendrick Chua made a suggestion to implement a four-day workweek to conserve energy and reduce the impact of rising fuel prices.

“Maybe we should try to conserve energy and one way of doing it is [implementing] the four-day workweek. People will still work for 40 hours per week but instead of working five days, it will be four days,” Chua said, adding that instead of eight hours, it will be 10 hours a day.

Chua said the work scheme was already implemented during the Gulf War in the 1990s and the global financial crisis in 2008 that also triggered higher oil prices.

Chua also said that increasing the minimum jeepney fare and minimum wage would result in higher inflation.

In the first two months of 2022, inflation averaged 3 percent, which is the midpoint of the target range of 2-4 percent for the year.

Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources, supported the proposal.

Under the proposed amendment to the Labor Code, businesses can implement alternative work arrangements as long as total work hours per week do not exceed 48 hours.

They should also follow rules governing overtime pay, night shift differential, and other related benefits.

He also said other examples of alternative work arrangements include a compressed workweek, rotation of workers within the workweek, flexible holiday schedules, and flexible time.

Villanueva renewed his call for the Department of Labor and Employment to work with businesses for the full implementation of the Work From Home Law, which was enacted back in 2018.

He noted that the Telecommuting or Work From Home Law was relevant even before the pandemic started, and said skyrocketing fuel prices are one of the main reasons he pushed this to become a law.

“We have yet to see the end to the problems of traffic and high price of fuel, and WFH is one way for industries to adjust and cope,” he said.

“Businesses and workers are already familiar with alternative work arrangements by this time,” he said.

“It is our job to empower them to contribute to the national economy without the burden of fuel prices and the daily commute,” he added.

He said this also gives our workers the opportunity to spend their wages on needs other than transportation costs.

“This way, we balance the need for businesses to continue growing despite the oil crisis, and we help with the work-life balance for our workers,” the senator added.

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